<EM>Related</EM> Related

In 1994, Marta Kauffman and cocreator David Crane gave the world six good Friends. Now, two years after that long-running series' celebrated swan song, Kauffman is back executive-producing a new show. Where her previous creations were, well, friends, now she is telling a story about people who are Related — the sassy and sexy Sorelli sisters of New York City, played by Jennifer Esposito (Spin City), Kiele Sanchez (Married to the Kellys), Lizzy Caplan (Freaks and Geeks) and Laura Breckenridge — in WB's new single-camera comedy (premiering Oct. 5).

"I know it's kind of soon after Friends," Kauffman admits. "It kind of surprised me, too. But I am truly honored to be working on this show." Related, she promises, "has the camaraderie and sexiness" of Sex and the City plus "the warmth of humor of Friends — and the urban neurosis of both." And while on paper it may seem to echo a onetime NBC series about sibs, she points out, "This is not a melodrama [and] it doesn't have the sappier sentiment that Sisters did.

"In addition," Kauffman quips, "I'm not sure that the sisters on Sisters ever saw each other naked. I think the Sorelli girls have."

Why the choice of Related for her return to network television, versus a traditional three-camera, Friends-style sitcom? "To be completely honest, I didn't want to compete with myself," says Kauffman. "I wanted to reinvent myself. This seemed like the perfect way to step back in without competing with what I've already done, because I can't win that battle."

And how has Kauffman prepared for — to steal the title of former Friend Lisa Kudrow's show — the comeback? Has she ferociously scouted out the competition? Surprisingly, she admits, "I have not been checking in on a lot of comedy. For me, the idea of spending a lot of time watching Joey is kind of depressing because — talk about denial! — it indicates that Friends is over."

Check out video previews, photos, premiere dates and more from fall's new and returning shows right here.